The future for eco-tourism


CGI from Scott Brownrigg of proposed eco-tourism hub on the Muckno Estate at Castleblayney, County Monaghan


With the outbreak of another Covid variant, how will tourism develop next year? Will crowds stay away again from our leading cities with their museums and theatres in favour of a newer form of eco-tourism that puts action, adventure and the wider landscape at its heart?


Future Cities Forum will be discussing the important topic of eco-tourism at its 'Cultural Cities' forum in January 2022, so we are delighted to showcase Scott Brownrigg's concept for a new sustainable tourist hub in the heart of County Monaghan in Ireland.


The concept has been developed for the partnership between Monaghan County Council and Failte Ireland together with Professor Terry Stevens of Stevens and Associates, as key facilitator of the study and tourism research and concepts.


The vision, which has now been put out to public consultation, identifies how land on the Muckno Estate in Castleblayney could become a resilient and innovative adventure tourist destination that will act as a catalyst for regional tourism growth. Built with significant community involvement, the proposal will deliver benefits that harness the regenerative and wellbeing power of connecting adventure to nature, heritage and culture.


Drawing inspiration from the Estate's history and glacial landscape, proposals are based upon the shaping of the drumlin, interspersed with loughs and lakes, and seeks to protect Hope Castle, built in the 18th century.


A series of glazed domes embedded into the landscape mimic the setting, and host a wide range of covered adventure activities to enjoy all year round.


Hope Castle will potentially be enveloped within one of the glass domes, protecting it from the elements to help reduce future restoration and maintenance costs.


There is an opportunity to work in partnership with the world-leading Arts Electronica Centre and Ars Solutions to create, 'The Deep Space of Adventure', a concept that delivers immersive experiences within the walls of the Castle. Designed as a flexible, multi-use space, the Deep Space facility is able to host a wide range of events, research purposes and even medical training.


A selection of high quality accommodation includes the lakeshore wellness hotel; a dispersed hotel with bedrooms spread across the estate in a variety of settings as well as rooms in local guesthouses and traditional pubs, hotels and restaurants. This reflects the shift in interest, particularly since the start of the pandemic, away from large-scale hotels towards more low impact boutique locations with fewer rooms and a focus on wellbeing and the locale.


The project aims to be carbon neutral, with each of the domes supported by earth rammed walls built from materials excavated from site, and featuring a locally sourced, sustainable-latticed timber roof inspired by the work of local world-renowned architectural engineer, Peter Rice. Passive environmental techniques will control the internal climate, as well as using ground and water sourced heat from the landscape and Lough Muckno. The proposal augments opportunity for biodiversity, water enhancement and well-being of this special landscape.


This new vision for the Estate fully integrates with the town, the wider countryside with its Greenways and other attractions. This will ensure multiple benefits for local people and providing guests with a seamless, authentic but contemporary Irish heritage and cultural experience.

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